#AJO has taken the world by storm! With a single act of kindness to honor their daughter, Alyssa, the O’Neills purchased 40 pumpkin spiced lattes for strangers at an Erie, PA Starbucks. The family asked the baristas to write her initials, #AJO, on the cups. This one act inspired a nation and the world.
Moved by #AJO, Ryan and I made a commitment to pay it forward by being kind and merciful this Advent season. Each day, we tell each other what we have done that has been kind and merciful. Ryan holds the door open at church for me and everyone attending Mass. When asked to donate to help others, he quickly opens his wallet and is the first to place money in the basket. When there is a job to be done, Ryan is the first to volunteer.
As I look back over the holiday season I realize how fortunate we have been to be recipients of random acts of kindness. Linda Breakiron, owner of Breakiron Jewelers, donated a custom-designed genuine amethyst and blue green topaz pendant as the premiere gift for the Ladies Only Luncheon. Student volunteers from Villa Maria Academy have danced with our kids at the Jingle Bell Hop and entertained children waiting to see Santa at the Autism-Friendly Santa event. The North East Mennonite choir and the Woodrow Wilson Middle School chorus sang Christmas carols and holiday songs at our school. The Rotary Club of Erie shared the Christmas spirit by donating presents for our high school students.
Rhonda and Joe Schember, a.k.a. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, have been surprising children at BNI for 25 years since their daughter began attending at the age of 3. It is miraculous to see the students interact, make eye contact and engage with Santa. “This is my favorite day of the year,” said Mr. Claus.
Random acts of kindness come in all forms — from helping a person cross an icy street to putting coins in an expired meter. Paying it forward not only benefits the recipient, but the giver, too. Did you know studies have shown that being kind and helping others reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduces stress and increases happiness? Today is a great time to incorporate random acts of kindness into your daily life and inspire others to pay it forward.